It seems there are two sorts of fools in the news at present. On the one hand there are those who are ignoring guidelines, spitting at police, and being abusive to shopworkers, spreading fake news, or setting up online scams. On the other there are those putting their own health, and maybe their lives, at risk to help others in this time of crisis.
This echoes the Bible. On the one hand, Psalm 14, 1 says ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.“ ‘ The word ‘fool’ in Hebrew understanding implies someone with no perception of ethical or religious claims, someone totally selfish, with no thought of God or of anyone else. Less severely, Jesus describes as foolish the person who builds on sand rather than on rock. (Matthew 7, 26)
On the other hand, St Paul writes ‘The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God…. Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … We preach Christ crucified; a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles… God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise… ‘ (Do read the whole passage: 1 Corinthians 1, 18-31). Jesus is the ‘fool’ who risks everything . He gives up everything, even life itself, because he loves us.
We have come to this holiest time of the Church’s year, when we think of the suffering and death of Jesus. How do we respond to his love?
The late John Wimber (pictured), founder of the Vineyard churches, used to tell of seeing a sandwich-board man walking along. On his front were the words ‘I’m a fool for Christ!’ and on his back ‘Whose fool are you?’ John’s reaction was ‘What an idiot.’
Years later, when he became a Christian, he realised what it meant, and determined that whatever others might think, he would be a fool for Christ. He would seek to follow Jesus, whatever the cost – in the footsteps of St Paul, who said of himself and the other apostles, ‘We are fools for Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 4, 10)
On this April Fools’ Day, let’s ask ourselves ‘Whose fool am I?’
Revd. David Newman